Belarus – which literally means [land of the] White Rus – is a landlocked eastern European nation. Population: under 10m. Capital city: Minsk. Governed by: Alexander Lukashenko, the first and only president since 1994. Some have described his rule as ‘a dictatorship’ while he himself has described his style of ruling as ‘authoritarian.’
To continue, Lukashenko’s record on human rights has been widely criticised. The only country in Europe to officially still have capital punishment, opponents to the regime, including independent politicians, journalists and yes, independent trade unions, have been repressed, sometimes violently.
Up until a few weeks ago I doubt if most people would have heard of Belarus. Following Lukashenko’s ‘re-election’ on August 9, of which many independent observers have reported concerns of serious fraud, manipulation and irregularities before, during and after the election –disproportionate violence, persecution and arrests were rained down on people peacefully protesting against the results.
Overnight the formerly overlooked republic of Belarus had become a target of worldwide, democratic condemnation.